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Thursday, May 11
From the "Independence" department: While touring NCL's training facility at Piney Point (MD) today, an interesting aside came up about an option that involved a "classic" old friend. Before NCL found the superb facilities at the Seafarers International Union's Maryland campus last year, they were considering several other options for training crew members for Pride of America, which will debut next month. The search was instituted because they knew that one way or another, Norway, which was previously used as a training facility for Pride of Aloha crew members, would continue to be part of the fleet and available to on which train this group of new employees. One of the options which was given serious consideration was taking Independence, which NCL America owns, out of mothballs and mooring her somewhere on the California coast for duty as a floating training facility, just as they did with Norway last year in Germany. When the Piney Point facility was found, it was so good, they settled on it instead, and now, the classic Independence will remain waiting for the day NCL America will bring her back to life for US coastal cruises.

Tuesday, May 10
From the having it both ways department: It's always amazing to me to see people say they didn't buy the insurance, but now they can't go on their cruise and they want the cruise line to waive the cancellation penalty because the "special circumstances." Of course when they won't, they want to make the cruise line the bad guy if they won't even give them a credit on a future cruise for the amount of their penalty. (They will never sail that cruise line again!)
   The insurance industry has a term for people who don't buy the insurance. They call those people "self-insuring." It makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Instead of paying the insurance company a premium, they are essentially paying it to themselves. They should be banking it like the insurance company does for that inevitable time when they need to collect. 
   People who are "self-insuring" need to realize that if they are collecting the premiums themselves instead of giving them to the insurance company, they need to be just as ready to "pay out claims" when they have to cancel for some unforeseen reason and are assessed a penalty by the cruise line. 

Friday, May 6
From the do you think it will hold water department: The vast majority of the top deck of Freedom of the Seas will be dedicated to aquatics, with three large pools and a whole water park filled with spraying, swirling, spurting and dumping water devices. The project's architect, Lars Iwdal, of Arkitektbyran AB told CND, "We have more tons of water on top [of Freedom] than we have ever put on top of a ship before."

Thursday, May 5
From the certainly not an empty ship department: Enchantment of the Seas left Ft. Lauderdale today for its lengthening in the Netherlands. Even though it's not carrying passengers on its 9-day transatlantic crossing, it's not empty. RCCL's EVP Maritime, Harri Kulovaara, told CND that as 400 crew members were getting off at Port Everglades, 500 workers from the yard were getting on. They will be starting the preliminary work for the cutting as the ship sails to Rotterdam.

Tuesday, May 3
From the strange-looking boat department: The new midsection that will be inserted in Enchantment of the Seas is currently on a barge being towed by an ocean-going tug, to the Keppel Verolme yard in Rotterdam. It's expected to arrive on Thursday. The 73-foot midsection left the Aker Finyards in Turku on April 24 and will be inserted in an operation that begins when Enchantment arrives on May 14. It will add 151 cabins to the ship's capacity without any additional cost in fuel. The only additional cost to the operation of the new cabins will be the necessary increase in staff (such as cabin stewards and dining room waiters and so forth). This lengthening is rather unusual in that it will be a completely dry operation. Neither the midsection nor the two sections of the ship will ever be in the water until they are all joined and floating as one ship. The operation will be completed in Rotterdam, and the ship will reenter service on July 7 at the Cape Liberty Cruise Port in Bayonne, NJ.

Monday, May 2
From the purchase price is only the down payment department: QE2 cost slightly more than 29 million pounds to build in 1969. Since then Cunard has spent more than 15 times that amount on refits and refurbishments. 

Friday, April 29
From the recognizing the biggest department: Carnival Corp CEO Micky Arison was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of Naval Architects. The prestigious group, which is comprised of some of the world's top marine engineers and architects, was recognizing Arison's contributions to the modern-day cruise industry, including Carnival's role as the world's largest builder of cruise ships. The 12 brands of Carnival Corp operate 78 vessels with another 12 newbuilds on order. Thirty-eight of those have been launched since Arison became president of  Carnival in 1979.

Thursday, April 28
From the first looks department: Royal Caribbean's new larger version of the Voyager-class line, Freedom of the Seas will debut first in New York in May 2006. It will be for a media event, and won't be open to the public or have any cruises scheduled, but due to its size at approximately 158,000 grt, it will be hard to miss. 

Tuesday, April 26
From the going out in style department: Queen Mary 2 has had its first transatlantic jumper. An 82-year-old German man, traveling alone on the season's first transatlantic crossing from Southampton to New York, apparently committed suicide by jumping from his private balcony into the Atlantic. The tragedy was discovered by a steward who couldn't rouse the man by knocking on his cabin door which was locked from the inside. After repeated attempts, her supervisor unlocked the cabin with a master key and found the balcony door standing open. Thorough searches were made of the ship while it turned around and retraced its route through the night, searching until daybreak and not finding his body. There were strong winds with snow in the area and low sea temperatures at the time. The gentleman's wife found a suicide note at home in Germany detailing his plans. While this gentleman was QM2's first transatlantic jumper, the ship's first suicide was on a Caribbean cruise in January.

Monday, April 25
From the still clean after all those cruises department: Even after a whole winter season of cruises, it hasn't dirtied up MSC Lirica. If anything, it's just gotten better. The CDC reports MSC Lirica received the coveted perfect score on its latest US Public Health Vessel Sanitation inspection. The inspection was completed in Ft. Lauderdale last Friday (April 22) while the ship turned around for the current cruise. Even its previous inspection in January was impressive with a score of 98, and obviously, the crew learned from the things that cost them those two points. (A passing score is 86.) Lirica's sister ship, MSC Opera posted a score of 95 on its most recent inspection in March. Perfetto!

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